Flood aftermath

Flood aftermath a year on

NAOMI ARNOLD
Last updated 08:36 14/12/2012
flood aftermath
Naomi Arnold
FLOOD AFTERMATH: Buddha and Lochie Childs at their flood-damaged home in Ligar Bay

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A year on, not a thing has changed at Buddha and Jane Childs’ former home in Ligar Bay. 

Their three-year-old house in Nyhane Dr is still submerged in a bank of silt, almost to the first storey. Kitchen appliances are still scattered inside, and mattresses, toys and clothes are still left where they settled.

An enormous bank of heavy logs still sits outside the first-storey window, stuck fast from when they washed down the valley a year ago, bumping up against the house – together with neighbours’ outdoor sheds and a full shipping container.

‘‘EQC had never seen a house as inundated,’’ Mr Childs says. 

The only noticeable difference today is that thistles and other weeds ntsG and thistles ntehave grown up around the house, and sprays of black mould coat the walls inside.

On the day the Nelson Mail visits, a digger is spreading dirt neatly over the footprint of a neighbour’s demolished house, leaving a clear view to the sea.

Behind the Childs’ house, another new house is going up – on stilts. Further away, the bare scars of slips are still visible on the hills behind the bay, despite a council grass seed sowing operation in June. 

The Childs’ landscaping is still buried, and they have no idea what happened to their kayaks, trampoline, outdoor furniture and barbecue.

The edges of their boundary stream are brown with silt, and a formerly lush creekside grove of native trees is nothing but sticks.

‘‘All dead,’’ Mrs Childs says.
They found out that their subdivision was on a floodplain far too late.

It’s been a stressful year for the family.

Since Mr and Mrs Childs and three of their four children narrowly escaped the swirling waters inside their home, they’ve been battling their insurance company, IAG, trying to get compensation.

The company initially wanted the house repaired, and back in June Mr Childs told the Mail it was in the process of recruiting builders to demolish the house. 

‘‘I certainly didn’t think we’d be going through the insurance process now. When you see [the house] in person, you actually have to wonder, how hard is it?’’

Mrs Childs says they had to fight for their contents insurance payout, but things are beginning to move now that they’ve hired a lawyer.

They’re still paying rates, and have their rent in Ligar Bay covered by insurance until March. The Tasman District Council has ruled out a building consent on the same footprint. 

Yet the couple say they’re doing ‘‘pretty well’’.

‘‘We’re just getting on with our lives,’’ Mrs Childs says.

‘‘If you didn’t, you would have to go crazy.’’

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